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Thread: a timed sit, or just sit

  1. #1
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    a timed sit, or just sit

    should one sit for a set time, or are there times one can just sit, "till the spirit moves ya" for lack of a better term, to just get up? i almost always sit for a set time, but there is a handful there where i said "i will sit till i just cant sit no more.." just curious..
    gassho

  2. #2

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    I have done both. The ones where I just sit as long as I feel like are far shorter. I'm just saying.

    -Mike, sort of near Minneapolis.

  3. #3

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by bayamo
    should one sit for a set time, or are there times one can just sit, "till the spirit moves ya" for lack of a better term, to just get up? i almost always sit for a set time, but there is a handful there where i said "i will sit till i just cant sit no more.." just curious..
    gassho
    It is good to just sit as long as one sits, no time limits, from time to time. I do that quite often.

    But on most days, we sit for a set time ... to develop the habit, and to bring to a start and finish something without true beginning or end. So, I recommend picking a time that you are sure you can commit to and maintain each day. Maximum 40 minutes at one time, minimum 15 minutes ... but 20 to 35 minutes is a good range.

    Sit twice a day, although I strongly encourage at least once a day if combined with Jundo's patented "Insta-Zazen" © ...

    I would also like to encourage everybody to try Jundo's Patented "Insta-Zazen" © throughout each day. You don't even have to "sit" for these "sittings", but can sit while standing, lying down, jumping on the bed or hanging by one's feet. "Insta-Zazen" © can be of any length, starting from but a moment until infinite time (which may be the same!). We "Insta-Sit" © at times in our day when just a bit of "Zen Mind"© will change our perspective on all things, when a touch of balance will bring life into balance ...

    Just standing in a creeping postal line, in the dentist's chair, when the car won't start on a cold morning, when driving and stuck in traffic, when the computer crashes, wherever and whenever ... just do what you do in Zazen, with the Lotus Position fully optional (it tends to get in the way while driving or having a root canal, although it might work in the postal line if you keep pushing along.).

    This is actually not such a radical departure from "traditional" practice. Life in a Zen monastery, for example, is filled with countless opportunities to bring the "Way of Non-Seeking" tasted on the cushion into daily activities ... what's the difference between the "Dokusan" line and the postal line? Even monks need the dentist. If dropping the incense during the big ceremony at the temple, or dropping the water glass at dinner, just pick it up! Each place is a place for Practice. In fact, if what we do on the cushion stays on the cushion, what's the point??

    So, please try Jundo's Patented "Insta-Zazen" © throughout your day. In fact, for a limited time only, three (3) "Insta-Zazens" © can subsitute for one (1) traditional sitting (if sitting one or more traditional sittings each day).
    If you would like to read more on folks' ideas for Insta-Sittings© , have a looky here ...

    viewtopic.php?p=9765#p9765

  4. #4
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    thanks, i like the idea of "Insta-Sittings©"
    gassho

  5. #5
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Today I set the timer for 25 minutes, so it was a timed sit. But when the timer went off I decided to keep sitting, so it was an untimed sit. Not one, not two, just zazen.

  6. #6
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    one of the reasons i really started to think about this is because a set time almost seems like a "goal".. where i was under the impression that one should not exist.. approached from the "goal" angle, how does a timed sit fit in?

  7. #7

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by bayamo
    one of the reasons i really started to think about this is because a set time almost seems like a "goal".. where i was under the impression that one should not exist.. approached from the "goal" angle, how does a timed sit fit in?
    Well, you do have goals, otherwise you wouldn't be posting here :-). It's not about killing emotions and being a robot, it's about not being driven by them. So if the idea of using a timer arises, let it in, place yourself in a zennish state, and see what happens.

    Personally I almost always start with a timer. As the session progresses I may ignore it, but I find that starting with one gives me more freedom during the session.

  8. #8
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by scott
    Quote Originally Posted by bayamo
    one of the reasons i really started to think about this is because a set time almost seems like a "goal".. where i was under the impression that one should not exist.. approached from the "goal" angle, how does a timed sit fit in?
    Well, you do have goals, otherwise you wouldn't be posting here :-). It's not about killing emotions and being a robot, it's about not being driven by them. So if the idea of using a timer arises, let it in, place yourself in a zennish state, and see what happens.

    Personally I almost always start with a timer. As the session progresses I may ignore it, but I find that starting with one gives me more freedom during the session.
    well, i dont know if i post here with "goals" per se, its just that i live in a whacked out place in the middle of nowhere brasil, and while i have met one other person interested in buddhism here, its nice to have a place to post, chat. discuss zen buddhism.. but i understand anout not being a robot and emotionless 24/7..
    gassho

  9. #9

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by bayamo
    one of the reasons i really started to think about this is because a set time almost seems like a "goal".. where i was under the impression that one should not exist.. approached from the "goal" angle, how does a timed sit fit in?
    Well, on the Zafu, we have the goal of dropping all goals as much as possible. To the marrow, drop all goals ... drop them to the point that there is nothing whatsoever in need of attaining, nothing which can be attained, all complete and alive and just what it is. If a goal or other thought comes into mind, let it drift out of mind again. Then, when the bell rings ... get up. Simple as that.

    This "goalless sitting", by the way is --not-- merely sitting on our butts, self-satisfied, feeling that we "just have to sit here and we are Buddha". Far from it. It is, instead, too-the-marrow dropping of all need.

    "Shikanataza" is an unusual approach to Zazen in that it is the point itself, a perfect doing, we sit Zazen because that is what (in Dogen's conception) Buddha's sit. We sit to sit, and in doing so ... the whole universe, all space and time ... is sitting. Nobody is sitting, and there is just sitting.

    If I may use the analogy of a hike in the mountains: As opposed to hiking a mountain to "get somewhere" we hike to hike (our feet hiking the mountain, the mountain hiking our feet, the mountain hiking the mountain, hiking just hiking hiking). Each step is arriving, fully exerting, nothing more to add or take away. Each step by step is the point.

    ... with the proviso, of course, that thoroughly attaining this "nothing in need of attaining or which can be attained" is an amazing attainment! Piercing the reality that, in sitting on our Zafu, "there is nothing that is not done or which can be done" is worlds away from just doing nothing sitting on our fat posterior.

    In both kinds of hiking ... hiking to get to a destination, hiking to hike ... we get to the same places, make it to the same final destination by sunset, cross the mountains step by step. But, each is a very different trip, worlds' apart.

    In the rest of life (off the Zafu, which is also Zazen), we need goals however. Otherwise, we would just stay in bed all day and forget to feed ourselves! 8) So, it is possible to learn to have "goals" on one channel, while simultaneously dropping all "goals" on another channel (not two, like two sides of a single coin). This is "thinking not thinking", or more precisely, "goaling not goaling". Work your project, create your plans, make your choices ... but know that there is nothing in need of improving, nothing to choose, not a thing to plan.

    Have BIG goals, great dreams ... to build shiny cities or a compose a great novel, raise your kids and get them through school, or learn to use your arms and legs again after an accident. BIG goals are fine ... if combined with "no goal".

    Even with the former, know moderation ... for even good things, in excess, lead to attachment and harm. Hold the goal loosely, do not be (overly or at all) attached.

    If you work hard toward X, yet life heads toward Y ... be with Y. Repeat endlessly.

    It ain't rocket science!

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10
    disastermouse
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    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Well, on the Zafu, we have the goal of dropping all goals as much as possible. To the marrow, drop all goals ... drop them to the point that there is nothing whatsoever in need of attaining, nothing which can be attained, all complete and alive and just what it is. If a goal or other thought comes into mind, let it drift out of mind again. Then, when the bell rings ... get up. Simple as that.
    Thank you, Jundo. I don't think this can be stated frequently enough.

    Chet

  11. #11
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Well, on the Zafu, we have the goal of dropping all goals as much as possible. To the marrow, drop all goals ... drop them to the point that there is nothing whatsoever in need of attaining, nothing which can be attained, all complete and alive and just what it is. If a goal or other thought comes into mind, let it drift out of mind again. Then, when the bell rings ... get up. Simple as that.
    gassho

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    "Shikanataza" is an unusual approach to Zazen in that it is the point itself, a perfect doing, we sit Zazen because that is what (in Dogen's conception) Buddha's sit. We sit to sit, and in doing so ... the whole universe, all space and time ... is sitting. Nobody is sitting, and there is just sitting.
    gassho

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    If I may use the analogy of a hike in the mountains: As opposed to hiking a mountain to "get somewhere" we hike to hike (our feet hiking the mountain, the mountain hiking our feet, the mountain hiking the mountain, hiking just hiking hiking). Each step is arriving, fully exerting, nothing more to add or take away. Each step by step is the point.
    excellent analogy, very helpful, gassho again..

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    ... with the proviso, of course, that thoroughly attaining this "nothing in need of attaining or which can be attained" is an amazing attainment! Piercing the reality that, in sitting on our Zafu, "there is nothing that is not done or which can be done" is worlds away from just doing nothing sitting on our fat posterior.

    In both kinds of hiking ... hiking to get to a destination, hiking to hike ... we get to the same places, make it to the same final destination by sunset, cross the mountains step by step. But, each is a very different trip, worlds' apart.
    i cant say it enough, THANK YOU

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    In the rest of life (off the Zafu, which is also Zazen), we need goals however. Otherwise, we would just stay in bed all day and forget to feed ourselves! 8) So, it is possible to learn to have "goals" on one channel, while simultaneously dropping all "goals" on another channel (not two, like two sides of a single coin). This is "thinking not thinking", or more precisely, "goaling not goaling". Work your project, create your plans, make your choices ... but know that there is nothing in need of improving, nothing to choose, not a thing to plan.
    that part i kinda figured, the life "away from the zafu", via warners chapter goal/no goal, and what nishijima told him about goals in the "fiction" of the "real world..

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Have BIG goals, great dreams ... to build shiny cities or a compose a great novel, raise your kids and get them through school, or learn to use your arms and legs again after an accident. BIG goals are fine ... if combined with "no goal".

    Even with the former, know moderation ... for even good things, in excess, lead to attachment and harm. Hold the goal loosely, do not be (overly or at all) attached.

    If you work hard toward X, yet life heads toward Y ... be with Y. Repeat endlessly.

    It ain't rocket science!


    Gassho, Jundo
    Jundo, just gassho man

  12. #12

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    It ain't rocket science!
    I can't help it - I'm amused. I am a rocket scientist (astronomer, anyway) and it is way, way easier than Zazen.

    Which is of course not actually the case, as Jundo says. And yet this remains my perception. Yet Zazen isn't easy and it isn't hard. It just is. I know this in my mind, but I have not 'realized' it. And so it is still hard, or sometimes not so hard. And it is a challenge not to have a goal, when I find I am sitting and wondering when I will wake up and find it isn't hard or easy. It just is.

  13. #13
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueMorpho
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    It ain't rocket science!
    I can't help it - I'm amused. I am a rocket scientist (astronomer, anyway) and it is way, way easier than Zazen.

    Which is of course not actually the case, as Jundo says. And yet this remains my perception. Yet Zazen isn't easy and it isn't hard. It just is. I know this in my mind, but I have not 'realized' it. And so it is still hard, or sometimes not so hard. And it is a challenge not to have a goal, when I find I am sitting and wondering when I will wake up and find it isn't hard or easy. It just is.
    i see it as a hit or miss, and i think it is that view that hinders the practice..
    gassho

  14. #14

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Hi all,
    This is my second post on this forum, the first being an introduction. When i started sitting many years ago, i had a set time of twenty minutes, twice a day. When I woke up in the morning, and around sunset. At first i kept peeking at the clock to see how much time was left. But, after months of sitting, when my mind entered the state of no-thought, just "clarity" and awareness i forgot about the clock. So sometimes i would sit for 45 minutes to an hour as if time was non-existant. That is what is so important about sitting. Is sooner or latter the mind will stop thinking and the body relax, and the non-dual state of mind be present. It is timeless and not-boring.
    Frank

  15. #15

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by grassblade
    Hi all,
    This is my second post on this forum, the first being an introduction. When i started sitting many years ago, i had a set time of twenty minutes, twice a day. When I woke up in the morning, and around sunset. At first i kept peeking at the clock to see how much time was left. But, after months of sitting, when my mind entered the state of no-thought, just "clarity" and awareness i forgot about the clock. So sometimes i would sit for 45 minutes to an hour as if time was non-existant. That is what is so important about sitting. Is sooner or latter the mind will stop thinking and the body relax, and the non-dual state of mind be present. It is timeless and not-boring.
    Frank
    Hi Frank,

    Welcome again.

    It sounds as if you are practicing a form of Jh?na in which there is a dropping away into a one pointed mind. The description of long periods of "stop thinking", timelessness and a non-dual state lead me to believe so. Is it accompanied by an awareness of events in your surroundings (what is happening or sounds in the room, for example)? Feelings of equanimity and peace, or more a blissful feeling, rapture?

    Shikantaza is a bit of another flavor of Zazen, in which we are in this world, and are this world (one beyond one), yet not. While there are times when we may pass through such moments of "not thinking" or deep one-pointedness (and we neither push those away or run towards them), our practice is more one of a collected, subtle, relaxed mind which does not "shut out" the surrounding environment and usually remains aware of that (although the hard borders between self and other will soften and, sometimes, timelessly and fully drop away). It is more a matter of staying in, and being not apart from this world ... versus a state which takes us out of that. We sit with our eyes open (2/3rds open), focused as our "object of meditation" on what I term "everything and nothing at all" (although some forms of Shikantaza will focus more on the breath, posture or the like).

    We neither try to attain "no thinking" ... nor do we sit and think, lost in trains of thought. Our way is often called "thinking not thinking". It is another way in which we might say that we are trying to both "be at one with this world" while simultaneously "seeing through this world' ... but not escape this world. It is a very good way to take the mind of Zazen off the Zafu and our into the day-to-day of thoughts, time, distraction.

    "Shikanataza" Just Sitting a very special way of Zazen ... because there is nothing special. Our way is also one of to-the-marrow non-attaining, dropping all goals and seeking for special states ... with the proviso, of course, that truly achieving to-the-marrow non-achievement, profound equanimity, and obtaining the goal of radical goallessnes is a world shaking achievement and attainment! :shock:

    Please give a little read to this and see if it is compatible with your style of Zazen. (As a matter of fact, anyone who has not had a chance to read the following description yet ... please do) ...

    viewtopic.php?p=22966#p22966

    Also, please give a watch to our Beginners' series of videos (we are all beginners), and it will describe a bit more of the approach ... especially the "clouds and blue sky" video.

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=447

    Let me know your thoughts (and no thoughts) on these.

    Gassho, Jundo

  16. #16

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Hi Jundo,
    Thanks for the insights into what i posted. The period of which i was talking about was almost 24 years ago. Through the years my practice is as u have described. I do not reach a state of shutting the world out. Like you have said it is just sitting and letting thoughts come and go. I am striving for no state of mind, and am aware of my surroundings without being overly attached to them. I can see how u would think through my desciptions of that "timeless" since we sometimes have, that i think that is Zazen. Thank you for bringing up the middle way. I sit now to just be sitting, no goals, no striving, just sitting. And when i get up from my sit it carries on throughout my day. Of course occasionally i fall back into habit, but it doesn't usually last too long.
    You seem to be the most involved "teacher" on the internet. And it is almost like a "real" Sangha that is existing in cyberspace. I appreciate your efforts and the results of them.
    I can only watch your videos after from 1am to 6am because we have satellite internet and it has a "Fair Access Policy", if we exceed a certain amount of downloaded info we have to go through a shut down period of 24 hours. So when i am cogent enough during that time frame i will certainly watch the videos you made.

    Thank You,
    Frank

  17. #17

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by grassblade
    And it is almost like a "real" Sangha that is existing in cyberspace.
    What do you mean "almost like"??? :twisted:

    We are as real as real can be (or, anyway, as dreamlike as the rest of reality ... ) 8)

    Yes, just sitting ... I like the timeless, but we try not to forget or resist time too.

    Gassho, Jundo

  18. #18

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    What do you mean "almost like"??? :twisted:

    :mrgreen:

  19. #19
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by grassblade
    And it is almost like a "real" Sangha that is existing in cyberspace.
    What do you mean "almost like"??? :twisted:

    We are as real as real can be (or, anyway, as dreamlike as the rest of reality ... ) 8)

    Yes, just sitting ... I like the timeless, but we try not to forget or resist time too.

    Gassho, Jundo
    i see it as real as real can be.. its the 21st century, times change yet somethings remain timeless.. the dharma is being presented in ways we never thought possible..
    gassho

  20. #20

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by ph0kin
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    We sit with our eyes open (2/3rds open), focused as our "object of meditation" on what I term "everything and nothing at all" (although some forms of Shikantaza will focus more on the breath, posture or the like).
    So.... I have a question about this. I tried to search the forum for info, but why do the eyes have to be open? For some reason, when I try to do zazen with eyes open, I have one of two issues:

    1. Eyes get real splotchy looking at the wall.
    2. My eyes freak out, and I blink a lot.

    What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks!
    Hiya!

    Not one thing.

    Eyes open helps keep our feet on the ground/head outta the clouds.(and in early morning/late night/baby-holding-@ 4am-due-to-teething it eyes closed leads to quickly to zzZZzzazen - in my experience!).
    With eyes closed I found it too easy to wander off with thoughts or play to long with visions that may appear. eyes open...not so much. Splotchy walls and eyes freaking out will go away...if not could be a bit of over focusing? do you think?...looking for one central focus point.

    If you can let your gaze just rest, wide field of vision works for me. Just let your eyes fall comfortably too. I found forcing one thing or another...say 2/3rds open (heh or 1/3rd closed...as the case may be!) tends to make my eyes twitchy. Blinking is fine...actually its all good just let your eyes be them eyes and do not try to make them do something uncomfortable

    Hope some of this helps!

    Gassho
    Shohei

  21. #21

    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    Quote Originally Posted by ph0kin
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    We sit with our eyes open (2/3rds open), focused as our "object of meditation" on what I term "everything and nothing at all" (although some forms of Shikantaza will focus more on the breath, posture or the like).
    So.... I have a question about this. I tried to search the forum for info, but why do the eyes have to be open? For some reason, when I try to do zazen with eyes open, I have one of two issues:

    1. Eyes get real splotchy looking at the wall.
    2. My eyes freak out, and I blink a lot.

    What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks!
    Hi,

    We have the eyes open (about 1/3 or 2/3rds) as, in Shikantaza, we are not seeking to remove or separate ourselves from the world and surrounding environment at all (actually, we are allowing the very unmaking of removal and separation to occur). We just sit with "what is", and do not try to close it out or hide it. In Japanese Soto style, it is traditional to sit in a quiet room, and facing the wall, to provide some degree of settling and quiet (which allows the mind to settle) ... but many in the west also sit facing into to room, looking at a downward angle toward the floor. As well, every few weeks or so, I recommend folks to sit in a very disturbing environment, as here ...

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=15188

    and a daily practice like this ...

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=14965

    In any event, the eyes should be blinking normally, and in focus ... normal focus (not over focus either, as Shohei says). We should be looking at "everything and nothing in particular", which does not mean that you let the eyes go blurry or teary. It is simply that you do not think about, or daydream about, whatever you are looking at ... for example "oh, a spot on the wall ... I like that spot ... that spot looks like a dog ... I like dogs ... I need to feed the dog ... I need to go to the grocery and buy dog food ... etc. etc. ). We just see the spot without seeing it, without pondering it or judging it.

    Did that "clear things up" a bit? 8)

    Shohei posted as I was writing this ... Ditto to his comments.

    Gassho, J

  22. #22
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: a timed sit, or just sit

    In any event, the eyes should be blinking normally, and in focus ... normal focus (not over focus either, as Shohei says). We should be looking at "everything and nothing in particular", which does not mean that you let the eyes go blurry or teary. It is simply that you do not think about, or daydream about, whatever you are looking at ... for example "oh, a spot on the wall ... I like that spot ... that spot looks like a dog ... I like dogs ... I need to feed the dog ... I need to go to the grocery and buy dog food ... etc. etc. ). We just see the spot without seeing it, without pondering it or judging it.
    There are some times when the bell rings to end my sitting that I realize I never even found a spot on the wall to look at, such was my monkey mind. Hell, sometimes it's "what wall?" But it was still zazen.

    I screwed up setting my timer today so I "timed" my sit according to the heater coming on and going off. Since it wasn't on the clock, so to speak, does that mean it was untimed?

    Timed/untimed, just more labels to drop.

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